Viral 1983 CIA Interview Explains How Intelligence Agencies Manipulate Media

Former officer Frank Snepp breaks down the strategy to plant stories, shape public opinion, and influence government policy

Mitchell Peterson
6 min readNov 11, 2022


Photo by Social Income on Unsplash

Analyzing how media manipulates public opinion is an evergreen subject. A thread within that is how intelligence agencies use the media to distort reality and get the public to support geopolitical objectives that have next to nothing to do with the security of the American people. Somehow, despite decades of lies and disinformation from Vietnam to Nicaragua to Iraq to Afghanistan, Americans on all sides of the political spectrum still line up to regularly take their dose of propagandistic half-truths.

As with most things, I’m consistently surprised how Europeans do the same.

Just as many Europeans still have a misguided view of America being a nation brimming with rich people and beautiful suburbs and are then shocked when they land in Los Angeles and see kilometer-long tent cities and trash-filled streets, I had my own naive presumptions about European critical thinking.

Obviously, there are plenty of intelligent, skeptical, and aware people on both sides of the Atlantic, but there are a lot more similarities than I ever would have thought.

There might even be more questioning of official narratives stateside than there is here in the EU. That could be because the US government has been more war hungry abroad and utterly useless domestically for longer, which has led more citizens to be suspicious of any directives given by the state, or maybe it’s just inherent in the American spirit. I’m not sure.

While that seed of doubt exists, we’re all still susceptible to the manipulation of the media.

That is why advertising exists, why marketing executives have corner offices, and why billionaires buy media outlets in the first place.

It’s all too effective.

That is also why intelligence agencies use media to shape public opinion and influence government policy. It happened in the past. It is happening today.



Mitchell Peterson

Freelance writer who spent nine years outside the US, currently in rural America writing the Substack bestseller 18 Uncles.